The Sound of Silence. (And Some Light Vomiting)
I was checking up on the WorldChanging site when I discovered the following quote of Natalie Jeremijenko (I had never heard of her but then I have never heard of most people) in one of their articles:
"[At the Democratic and Republican conventions this past summer], the police threatened to deploy a sound weapon that concentrates sound energy on particular people and makes them tremendously nauseous."
I was thrilled at first but on rereading the context I realized that they were not planning to use it on the speakers at the conventions but on the protestors. Don't misunderestimate me here, I would love to see the Anti-Bush and Anti-Kerry, placard packing loonies bent over and heaving - the same way their empty slogans and vacuous chants make me feel. (One more freakin' "Hey-Hey, Hoe-Hoe!" chant and by Odin I will turn this planet to ash!)
The protestors however, are at least expressing their sincere if content-lacking views. The ones who really deserved a sonic heave are the speaking delegates who are expressing things they have been spoon fed by their parties' marketing divisions and never actually thought about. Not thinking about what you believe is the prime cause of right-wing people who hold left-wing ideals but are in denial about it and vise versa for the fascist left. A careful look at the left-wing/right-wing roulette wheel of thought will show numerous instances of party members who look like they were parachuted in because of some family tradition of partisan voting even though they are from some parallel universe where left is right and right is left. Looking a little further back in history will quickly show that entire issues like free-trade, civil rights and the roll of the government in society have switched parties without anyone batting an eyelash. This has the amusing consequence of the words "liberal" and "conservative" having acquired nearly the complete reverse meaning on different sides of the Atlantic. This made reading The Economist kind of a challenge when I was a lad, I can tell you.
More deserving still of the "words and lunch entanglement" blaster (W.A.L.E. blasters - cool!) are those speakers who actually have a brain and are capable of meaningful discourse and yet had chosen to spout meaningless platitudes, to fear monger about the "other side" (Like there really is one!) and to use every tool of bad reasoning they can think of on the loyal party rubes to this day. Keep together for the sake of unity. Let us not talk about what divides us. Informed dissent is more divisive than the silence illusion of consensus, after all. Diversity is good until in involves policy.
One day the economically literate Democrats and the libertarian Republicans will lift their faces out of the bag full of solvents that is politics on earth (from the first tribal chief to the commander in Chief) and realize what the rest of humanity, those of us without party membership cards, already know. That while the ballot box is a vital tool for depriving incompetent and corrupt people of power by a process similar to crop rotation (plow them under every four or five years), real power, the power to improve our lives, all our lives is achieved, not by lending our power to representatives, but in changing things ourselves.
That is why I love sites like WorldChanging.com. Even if I am skeptical of some of the ideas and projects, they profile so many stories that seem to have a revolutionary potential. For example:
- Ideas like a video game where the goal is to organize nonviolent action to topple an oppressive regime As Sim City provoked people to think about urban planning, A Force More Powerful asks you what you would do if your government started hating and distrusting its citizens. (A scenario that is not as close as some people think but is not as impossible as others think.) It is a practice simulation for the day when you wake up and realize that your country has became the next Serbia or Ukraine and the wall that must come down is running through your city. It is no wonder that politicians feel uneasy about video games. [Hey Congress, neither baseball nor Counter-Strike is the game you should be investigating. And while I have your attention... What the hell are erototoxins? I can't find that term in any textbook or medical journal or science paper. You want money to study these things so could you maybe provide a bottle of them for us to see?]
- Projects like Adopt a mine field which can not run its commercials on American T.V. networks because the idea of children being blown up by land mines is too disturbing for American viewers to know about. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have ever made a serious issue about increasing global funding for mine clearing, probably because they have not found a way of getting some pork barrel projects for their districts. Even if you believe that land mines are somehow valuable to military tools and are not, in fact intended to maim civilians, the idea that these things can just be left there without any attempt to remove them when you are done fighting is just fucking evil. Sorry for the language but if you can't say something is fucking evil when it is fucking evil, when can you say it?. Individuals can look at a site like this and ask, "What will improve the world more: making my annual donation to my political party or keeping kids from having their body parts ripped away from them?"
- Concepts like leapfrogging. They didn't invent the concept but by assembling these stories on one page it helps you notice something important. While not all of the articles listed in this category would have struck the reader as earth shattering on their own, they form a pattern of activity that is having world changing consequences.
- Devices like the NetReliefKit and the Refugee Shelter In A Bag have the potential to add vital new tools to those who want to fix this world instead of pontificate about it.
Now how do I get me one of those W.A.L.E. blasters. Some of my neighbors have been talking too loudly in the hallway again.